How to Obtain Executive Buy-in for Your Next Data Initiative

Businesses today tout the importance of Big Data, of successful data and analytics initiatives, and of effectively translating data into actionable insights. A data-driven business will likely be more efficient, have a higher ROI, offer a better customer experience, and gain a competitive edge. And the majority of businesses allocate more and more money each year to invest in data and analytics solutions.

Despite that, a recent survey reported that businesses are failing to become the data-driven organizations they aspire to be.

According to the 2019 Big Data and AI Executive Survey, which included executives from large corporations like American Express, Ford Motor Company and Johnson & Johnson, 72% of respondents reported they have yet to successfully create a data culture in their businesses.

There are likely a number of reasons for this – transformational organizational change is always a significant challenge – but one of the key factors is a lack of C-level executive buy-in.

In another recent survey commissioned by KPMG and conducted by Forrester Consulting, 49% of respondents felt that their C-level executives didn’t fully support their organization’s data and analytics strategies. Without support at the top, it is unreasonable to expect employees throughout the rest of the company to embrace and adopt new technologies.

So, how can businesses get their C-suite executives to not only support their data and analytics initiatives, but also to evangelize those initiatives throughout the organization? Here are 5 tips to help drive executive buy-in.


1. Create strategic alignment. Unfortunately, some C-suite executives feel that data and analytics initiatives fall solely in the domain of the IT department, instead of realizing their potential impact across the organization as a whole. To effectively sell a data initiative, you must demonstrate how it will align with and further the overall goals of the business. For example, if an overall business goal is to grow revenue by X% in a year, demonstrate to your executives how becoming a data-driven company can increase revenue, and discuss examples as to how it has done that in companies similar to yours.

2. Utilize data visualization. Data, without proper interpretation, can just look like a vast list of meaningless numbers, and few executives have the time or patience to dig through a huge Excel spreadsheet and try to make sense of it. Data visualization turns those numbers into a story, presenting data in ways that greatly improve the user experience, making it easy to understand, glean insights, and share. Showing executives intuitive dashboards that allow them to quickly find answers to their most mission-critical questions (without waiting for IT or the help of a data analyst) can truly be an eye-opener.

3. Demonstrate value. Some executives may have already been burned by massive, costly data initiatives that took years to develop, and ultimately fell short of their promised performance. To mitigate this risk, a better strategy is to start small – perhaps creating a small pilot program that addresses a use-case that can be quickly and easily implemented and produces valuable results in a short period of time. Once you’ve proven value with one issue, your executives may trust you to move on to the next one. In this way, you can gradually build out a data and analytics strategy instead of trying to enact sweeping transformational changes all at once.

4. Know your audience. Before you present to the executive team, understand what motivates each of them, what their key pain points are, and how your data solution can alleviate those pains. Use specific examples as to how your initiative will provide value in areas of concern, and avoid using technical jargon. Remember, you want this to be seen as a problem solver for the entire organization, not just a “nice to have” feature for IT.

5. Instill a sense of ownership. It’s important to involve your executives throughout the development process, so they can determine what features are most important for them, provide feedback every step of the way, and see their own ideas come to life. This will make them feel much more invested in the initiative and more likely to want to see it succeed.


Dobler Consulting has a team of leaders in database management and consulting services and can help your organization successfully navigate your next data and analytics initiative – from developing a strategy that aligns with your organizational goals to implementing solutions that provide immediate value. Contact us and let’s get started.

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